Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Zachary Gabriel Green, Ph.D., Committee Chair; Julia Buchanan, Ph.D.; Meenakshi Chakraverti, Ph.D.; Lea A. Hubbard, Ph.D.


Identity Construction, Multi-Cultural, Biracial, Leadership, Critical Mixed Race Studies, Phenomenology, Women, Theory U


In the United States, the post-Civil Rights Movement era changed forever the social perceptions about race and the self-perceptions of people who are born with mixed racial origin. Choosing to identify as mixed race in America inevitably leads to a racial cross-examination linked to America’s continued struggle with its racial heritage and the enduring legacy of a dominant discourse.

This dissertation focuses on the lived experience of women with one Black and one White parent. While subject to labels such as Black and White, Black, mulatto, biracial, mixed, or other, the central question is what do these women wish to call themselves. At the core of this qualitative study is the exploration of whether a dialogic approach can help create the conditions for the construction of a new language for the hybrid identity that is currently labeled Black and White, mixed race, and/or biracial. Drawing on theoretical perspectives from human development, psychology, and leadership, this dialogic approach provides women with one Black and one White parent an open opportunity to describe themselves and their processes for constructing identity. In addition to the dialogues, interview protocols are used to examine the intersection of individual histories with the collective emergent meaning of racial identity. As such, this dissertation explores some of the difficulties, dilemmas, and challenges in naming identity for one’s self in the face of a prevailing dominant discourse. Through the creation of a collective space, the findings suggest that dialogic conditions allow for new voices to emerge to describe and give meaning to the complexity of identity for mixed race individuals, as well as point to the potential discovery of language for shared meaning.


This dissertation contributes to the development of a critical understanding of the complexity of identity construction, bringing insight to the notion of a liminal space to explore what became termed a “Collective Only Experience.” The implications of this research include evidence that a dialogic approach may be one methodology for women with one Black and one White parent to gain greater leadership efficacy in describing their lived experience, move beyond current identity constructions, and collectively name their identity for themselves.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.